Before I feature these incredible women from The Affirmations Project movement, I wanted to share my own experience. First I thought I could put it all in a few words, but once I started typing, I realized I have a story to tell and there are people I'd like to acknowledge... If you are following my blog, you heard about The Affirmations Project I was honored to be involved with recently.
I met Adriana, the founder of The Affirmations Project, at the Fancy Flea Market in Plant City last spring. She stopped by my booth drawn by the wall of the portraits I had displayed at my tent... and that's how it all started. She told me about her dream project she'd had on her mind for years and how she finally started putting it all together this year. I was captivated by her personal story, her sincerity, her love and compassion, and I absolutely loved her vision of the project itself. The mission of this project is to empower women, any women, to love and accept themselves as they are, because they are perfect. Adriana is not only the founder or this project, but also a victim of breast cancer and had to fight for life herself. She won her battle, and then learned to love and accept herself after having double mastectomy.
We exchanged information to stay in touch and parted our ways... but not for long.
It's been a roller coaster of emotions for me from start to finish, and even now when I go back the memory line and look at these photographs I'm touched remembering the vulnerability, the courage and anxiety, the love and support, and questioning whether I can do this and fulfill expectations of women who put themselves out there, so vulnerable, to make difference to empower others.
I cannot tell you how many times I felt not deserving to be part of this project, having thoughts of quitting only because I didn't feel worthy to be surrounded by women so strong, brave, and beautiful; women who achieved victory after going through hell. On one hand I was extremely excited to be part of it, on the other hand I doubted my own self. The fear of disappointing others kept creeping up on me. And then it hit me, when at one of our meetings Adriana announced to everyone, that this project is not only for women who participate, but for all, and she called us all out to choose our own Affirmation Word that would tell our story... It was no brainer for me. I already knew my word - being WORTHY.
I have felt worthless and not deserving countless of times all through my life. I had just defined my personal Affirmation word months before I even met Adriana, but it was just something hidden within me, the desire to be worthy of the life I deserve. I realized right there how caught up I was with this project, beating myself up for any imperfections with deep anxiety of not being able to deliver the images everyone expected of me. This project helped me to embrace my own worthiness and let go of my fear of imperfection.
To make the long story a bit shorter, we set up the date for a photo shoot. We had eleven brave women who volunteered to participate, each with an incredible story, and each one of them adopted her own Affirmation Word that marks her life and her life-story. All of these women are breast cancer survivors who battled for their lives. They all got their chest covered with an amazing body paint work by Emma Kenemer with their Affirmations Word written across their bare chest. We had incredible hair stylists and makeup artists, awesome team of videographers Alex & AJ with AC Squared Productions, capturing the process and the vision of this project (check out their video HERE).
Adriana put endless amount of work to create this incredible project. What started as her vision, now flourished over the years and came to life. We hosted the exhibit event on October 4th, 2016 at the Centre Club in Tampa.
The night of the reveal was emotionally overwhelming... but in a good way. No words can describe the amount of gratitude for this amazing project. Touched by the stories, the messages and familiar faces of all these beautiful, brave women I've starred at my computer screen so many times... Seeing these women shine with joy during the reveal of the exhibit was priceless.
Thank you Adriana for bringing this project to life and the whole team for being so supportive of each other, making the whole process such memorable, beautiful and empowering adventure. It's an experience I will never forget. You all touched my heart.
These women are brave and bold! And so are you! For the next few weeks I will be sharing portraits of all eleven women participating in our very first The Affirmations Project. So stay tuned!
Founder of The Affirmations Project: Adriana Pabon
Support from High Hopes in High Heels
Photographers: Lucyna Aleksandra Portraits & Michelle Caudle with Silver Moon Custom Art & Photography
Videography: Alex & AJ at AC Square Productions
Body paint artist: Emma Kenemer
Hair stylists: Suzie Reed with iStyle Salon and Brian Ross with Darren Pena Salon
Makeup artists: Brenda Irizarry, Ashley Cantero (LAC Makeup Art), and an assistant Taylor Rodriguez